Even with yum cha places popping up everywhere, there are some more traditional restaurants that have persevered through time and have established themselves as the places to go for dim sum. Craving some dim sum before we left Hong Kong, my mom suggested Luk Yu which we found to be open after we dropped Big Brother off at Hong Kong station.
Established in 1933, Luk Yu is as traditional as it gets. Apart from the vulture-ing for seats which I found to be super traditional yet traumatizing (I’m looking at you, Lin Heung ><;;), this was the real deal. There are no menus where you check off what you want, no dim sum carts, and you wash your bowls and utensils in hot tea. No matter what Papa dJ tells you, you do not drink that tea. It’s probably his favorite dad joke. The tables on the ground floor are normally reserved for the regulars that dine there everyday but we got lucky and squished ourselves into a small table to the side of the front door.
The first thing we got were crab meat soup dumplings almost similar to siu long bao (小籠包) but different ingredients of course. For one it was bigger than the usual XLB I was familiar with. The folds were on the side instead of a symmetrical twist in the middle which made it resemble a giant ha gao (蝦餃) and more challenging to pick up with chopsticks. The skin has the perfect consistency though. It was just the right amount of thin where it wouldn’t break under the weight of the filling and you could make out what was inside the dumplings. The filling, Lord, that filling had the perfect taste of the sweet crab with soup and a dash of black/red vinegar you know cause sweet and sour go wonderful together. WONDERFUL. I need to stop.
Then we had some pretty standard dim sum fare: siu mai (燒賣) which is my personal fave and what I judge yum cha standards to, ngau yuk gau (牛肉球/steamed beef balls), cha siu bao (叉燒包/pork buns), and dan dat (蛋撻/egg tarts). It’s easy to leave the bamboo steamers on the cart and just let it sit there the whole time but here nuh uh. Nothing was overcooked. I mean nothing. While the serving sizes weren’t large, Luk Yu definitely kept up with the quality of the dishes!
Our last two dishes were ones that I’ve always heard of but never got the chance to try: steamed lou ba gou (蘿蔔糕/turnip cake) and ju yun siu mai (豬肝燒賣/pork liver siu mai). The steamed lou ba gou came in a bowl and I enjoyed the little bit of soy sauce that they put on top of it. It had the same consistency as the inside of a pan fried lou ba gou without the crispy and sometimes burned outside. Easy to eat with a spoon! The ju yun siu mai was stuff of legend for me. I expected the siu mai filling to be ground pork and shrimps mixed with pork liver. I did not except the siu mai to be topped with a generous slice of pork liver. Sadly, not a lot of places serve ju yun siu mai anymore so this was a gem.
I’m glad that I got the chance to dine at this institution and hope to do so more times in the future! Now to practice my Cantonese…
PSA: My shirt says “say no to shark’s fin” many times over and forms the shape of a shark. You should stop consuming it because it’s super unsustainable for the ecosystem and I could list many more reasons but you’d probably get bored. I got it through the HK Shark Foundation (http://hksharkfoundation.org/) and this is important because over 50% of the world’s shark’s fin is traded through Hong Kong. As a kid I used to really like shark’s fin because I found the texture so interesting and the flavor sweet. Considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, I looked forward to it in the form of soup during big celebrations and I was one of those people who said that I would never stop eating it. Well, things change and so do people. I found out the devastating effects of the trade on the environment and the economic market and as much as possible (I’ve accidentally drank the soup once in the last 5 years .____.), I’ve sworn off it. I’ve even gotten my parents and grandparents to not ever order it, at least when I’m around. While I don’t really have that much clout especially over the internet, I am one annoying little bitch so I will keep bringing this up as much as possible 😛
陸羽荼室 Luk Yu Tea House
G/F-3/F 24 Stanley St
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2523 5464
Monday to Sunday 0700H – 2200H